Updated April 14, 2020: An updated version of this blogpost is over on Jenn Pike’s website, Jen X Journal: Gen X women here before the hashtag. She has some great articles for Generation X on the topics of Career & Money, Selfcare, Food & Entertainment, Style & Beauty, and “Life Now & Then”. Be sure to check her out.
Those who have been reading for a while now I’ve been planning a career transition for several years…a transition which previously escalated in an unexpected through a process which I now understand is known as transparent separation.
Long story short, August 2, 2019 was was my first official day of “self-employment.” I have done a lot of freelance work over the years, but always as supplemental income. Now I’m doing that full time, and it’s a HUGE change.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far.
New Daily Routine
One of my biggest challenges has been settling into a new daily routine. For many years, my schedule revolved around my 8-5 corporate office job. Although I really wasn’t a fan of the monotony, the commute, or the open office environment, the regular schedule provided a sense of structure to my life that I needed more than I apparently realized.
Now I’m home and I can do whatever I want, whenever I want. I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want. I can get up, nap, and go to bed whenever. Woo-hoo! It’s like being on vacation 24-7!!!
Except that it’s hard to really accomplish anything on vacation. I typically eat nothing but junk food and rich comfort foods when I’m on vacation. And I’ve always used vacation time to catch up on my sleep. So my days have been turned upside down, and on Saturday, I realized I hadn’t eaten a vegetable all week.
Well, it didn’t take me very long to realize that if I’m ever going to be able to make a full-time income, I’m going to need to get back to some sort of a regular sleep schedule, incorporate salads and veggies into my “at-home” meal planning, and structure hours to actually sit down and work.
Beware of Life Coaches and Recruiters
Yes, I think life coaching and job recruiting are both great careers for people who are talented and trained for these professions. However, there is a whole new crop of recently unemployed people on the web who have received the majority of their training from self-proclaimed experts who specialize in selling “how-to” information. This is not a new concept, but the techniques vary from generation to generation.
The fees for life coaching courses are thousands of dollars, and they focus on how to find high-paying clients. The system is rather circular: One person sells a course to teach people how to set up similar courses and attract participants, and then the graduates of that course set up their own online courses to teach other people how to set up online courses and attract participants. There’s really very little “life coaching” going on, but there is a LOT of money flowing through PayPal.
There is also a whole new type of job recruiter – one that has no human resources experience whatsoever but simply matches up online job postings with online resumes for a fee. The “jobs” are usually either “investment opportunities” (i.e. scams) or commission-only sales jobs for companies that literally no one wants to work for (or they wouldn’t need to recruit in this manner).
Again, yes, there are some great life coaches and recruiters out there. If they are legitimate and really good at what they do, this can be easily verified online with some very basic researching on Linkedin, Facebook, and their website. They will be using their real names, and have real friends and contacts and references.
Regardless of how or why it happened, starting over is a humbling experience. Like a lot of people in midlife, I have been honing job skills for decades for careers that no longer exist. I have very few skills that are actually marketable in 2019. Oh, sure I might sound all confident and cocky with my cute little blog, but my confidence has been shattered.
Every single job description I was reading had a list of requirements that I didn’t even fully understand and had no idea how I would even obtain the skills or experience needed to meet those requirements. It was overwhelming. Because my previous employer did not follow the steps for me to qualify for job retraining, I was left to figure that out on my own, and with no disposable income for courses that may or may not actually result in a paying job.
So what to do?
Walking around with a crushed ego, desperate for work is not healthy or effective, so I immediately had to find something I’m good at and just do it.
Even if the pay is minuscule (or nothing), it’s important to start somewhere and work up from that. I knew I could substitute teach because I did that many years ago and my local district was advertising for subs. Being accepted there was a vital first step toward rebuilding confidence.
Then I found that some companies such as Rev, provide training at a reduced pay rate until you can get up to speed. So I’m brushing up on my transcription skills which I haven’t used since the early 1990s, learning a marketable skill for a truly in-demand job. Another type of task I’m really enjoying learning is search engine rating, and I’m learning this as a mobile search reviewer through Lionbridge.
I’ll be posting more about this type of task and gig work as I learn more.
Remember to LIVE
As an introvert, my instinct right now is to just hole up in my tiny apartment and take cover until this storm passes. The storm is not going to pass, however, unless I remain productive and while working “at home” is the desired result, becoming a hermit is not necessarily ideal for me.
Now that I no longer have the socialization of the office environment structured into my daily life, it’s important for me to get out and make friends and occasionally talk to people.
So, progress is being made – one step at a time. Who has been through something like this before? Any suggestions?